Free Open Session script-in-hand performance

Summer Rolls is a script-in-hand performance presented by Bristol Old Vic at Arnolfini on Sunday 7 May at 3pm.

Book your free tickets by emailing with 'Summer Rolls' in the subject line.

Summer Rolls

Bristol Old Vic is delighted to present this new play by writer and actress Tuyen Do, one of Bristol Old Vic's six Open Session writers 2016-17.

In Summer Rolls, a Vietnamese family seek peace in the UK, but the fight to survive still carries on. Status back home means nothing now, as the divide between family members widens and threatens to pull them apart.

Bristol Old Vic Literary Associate James Peries spoke to Tuyen about her play:

JP: What path has your play Summer Rolls taken so far? 

TD:  Summer Rolls is my first play.  It’s also a very personal play, inspired by my own upbringing and community.  It took me a long time to fully embrace how personal it was, and delve deeper into that in order to make it what it is.  The first draft (which I wrote at the end of my time on the Royal Court Unheard voices course) was sparser, and in some ways funnier, but had less depth.  I’ve been lucky to meet Sudha Bhuchar early on, who pushed me to stay true to my own voice, and encouraged me to have faith in my abilities. There have been various drafts.  Each draft, though different, has brought me closer to what it is now. I had to listen to the work, and what it needed.  That was challenging as I just wanted it finished most of the time. Writing is a craft, and having stuck writing this play on and off for over five years, I’ve learnt a lot through the process.  Rewriting is difficult but absolutely necessary.  Unless you’re a genius of course, which I am not.

How did you get involved with Bristol Old Vic?

I had put the play in a drawer for a couple of years and sort of forgot about it.  When I had our little boy we moved to Cheltenham where I now live.  I saw that Bristol Old Vic were calling for writers in the South West so I took the opportunity to send my play in.  I was lucky enough to be chosen to be one of their Open Session writers. Since then, they have supported me in my ACE application and re-igniting my love for this play.

And what exactly are ‘Summer Rolls’?

Summer Rolls are fresh rice paper rolls filled with salad, noodles, protein and herbs. They are a staple in Vietnamese cuisine, but are now served in practically every Pan Asian eatery.  The story goes: "What shall we call goi cuon?  Well, cha gio are called spring rolls. These are filled with salad.  Why don’t we call them summer rolls?" And so it began.

Bristol Old Vic is presenting the script-in-hand performance at the Arnolfini Gallery.  Without giving away too many spoilers, that’s got a relevance to an art strand in the story of Summer Rolls...

Mai, the protagonist in the play, opens the story with an exhibition of her work.  She uses photography as a way of seeing into people’s souls.  It’s when you catch people in a moment in time that you can really see them.

This interview is taken from a longer version found in Bristol Old Vic's Literary Department monthly newsletter. To subscribe, visit and click the ‘Join Our Literary Mailing List’ button. You can also follow @BOVwriters on Twitter.